Roland Roberts's blog

Aquila from near Wardell, MO

Shot from near Wardell, MO at the end of July while visiting family. The skies in southeast Missouri are nice and dark, but I was set up near a rice field which made challenging to keep the mosquitos off me while shooting. 

There was a first quarter moon up while this was being shot, so the background is a bit washed out, but I'd never be able to even think about shooting wide field from NYC, moon or not.

2017 Eclipse

Although I don't post much here because I've been busy with scouts, I'm not completely out of the hobby. Since I have family in Missouri, we traveled into the path of totality with friends and I got to see my first ever total eclipse. All I can say is that there is a big difference between a partial eclipse and a total eclipse. Wow! I have a few pictures, but they don't do the experience justice.

Bright Skies

A few years ago, I remember sitting out in my back alley and trying to gauge the faintest star I could see. During the summer and early fall Lyra is high overhead and has several stars around magnitude 3-5. The Little Dipper is often used for this but from here in Brooklyn that involves looking north over Manhattan, plus it's lower in the sky. 

Painful Drupal 7 Migration

I've avoided this for a long time. Finally I launched into it to find what it would take. You'll notice the web site looks a bit different. That's mostly because I didn't try to migrate the old theme; I'll eventually go through and tweak things until it morphs back into something closer. But that's not the painful part.

ASI120MM Astronomy Camera

I received this last year at the Rockland Astronomy Club's Summer Star Party as a raffle prize. Nice camera, designed as a planetary camera with 1280x960 resolution, small pixels at 3.75μm, compact and light-weight, and best of all, it has an autoguider port.

BSA Astronomy

Summers are always busy and this one was no different. But at least I finally got to do a little astronomy. First there was the update on writing a curriculum for Ten Mile River to try to get the scouts through the astronomy merit badge.

Gravity Tunnels, Falling through the Earth

I think I stumbled across this a while back but I can't remember where. The classic freshman physics question is, assuming a uniform density for the Earth and a perfect, frictionless tunnel cut through the Earth in a straight line, how long would it take to travel between any two points on the surface of the Earth? The answer is interesting. It's the same no matter how far apart the two points are, 42 minutes.

Testing Astro Video Capture in Linux

I recently picked up an older Thinkpad T400 that had Windows 7 installed. After a bit of angst, I went ahead with my plan to scrub the disk and install Fedora 21. Why the angst? Well, I had originally thought of using Windows 7 32-bit to control my older Canon Digital Rebel XT cameras. They are no longer supported by Canon and not at all on 64-bit platforms. But the T400 came with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 thought they seller did provide a 32-bit install disk.

Teach Foundational Language Principles (CACM May 2015, pp 30-31)

The authors point to teaching programming languages as opposed to logic as being a seriously weak spot in computer science education. While the “Hour of Code” has a lot of appeal and can introduce people to computing, they point out that new computing languages are continuously being developed to try to solve new problems. They make numerous examples and point to Dijkstra's classic “Go To Statement Considered Harmful” as examples of how understanding a problem has lead to new languages and new language structures.

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